To the businesspeople of Venezuela from a Friend in the United States

You are outraged and frustrated by the government, which is destroying the Venezuelan economy, preventing you from seizing opportunities to meet the needs of the country in an efficient way. You realize and understand that when the state attempts to control the economy – as it did in the 20th century in the Soviet Union and communist East Germany, and is now doing in Venezuela – that it leads of necessity to economic collapse.

On the other hand, you must also understand the longing of the people for brotherhood and social solidarity – their resentment of capitalist greed and exploitation ? a human resentment and idealism that led (also: of necessity) to the popularity of Hugo Chavez.

The present situation in Venezuela is clear evidence that neither exploitative capitalism nor state control of the economy can meet the real needs of the country as a whole.

There is a third way. It consists in transforming capitalism from a system that maximizes profit and rewards the rich and powerful into one that maximizes the wellbeing of all, that uses creative entrepreneurial skills to serve the real needs of the people.

This means:

  • Profits must be shared by all who create them.
  • Land and capital may neither be the private property of individuals nor controlled by the state. Instead their use must be entrusted to capable entrepreneurs to use efficiently for the benefit of all.
  • Cutthroat competition that leads ultimately to ever-larger corporations must be replaced by cooperation amongst businesses.
  • All economic activity will then be restored to its original – and only justified – purpose: serving others. It will be motivated by the ideal of brotherhood, social responsibility and solidarity.
  • In as far as this is achieved there will be no need for the state to control the economy: the economy will be controlled by businesspeople who use their capacities to serve everyone else. The state can then fulfill its original and only justified purpose: to make just laws and protect human rights and the wellbeing of the environment.

These ideas are not new. They were first described 100 years ago by Rudolf Steiner in Europe toward the end of the First World War. Aspects of these ideas have already been realized in the Mondragon initiative in Spain. More information about these ideas can be found on the internet at Socialself.org.

by John Barnes